Tag Archives: Plymouth MI

PLYMOUTH: Dinner and a Movie….

24 Mar

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Just about 26 miles west of Detroit in Wayne county lies the city of Plymouth; settled in 1825 it was named after Plymouth Massachusetts. Today this quaint town of just over 2 square miles is home to shops, restaurants, cafes, Kellogg Park and lovely historic homes. It is a beautiful day, the sky is clear, the sunshine deceiving as the temperature hovers around 20 degrees. We find a parking spot central to our planned activities and drop in at the Plymouth Coffee Bean. Since 1993 this independent coffee shop in a former residence has been providing folks with coffee, espresso drinks, pastries and light fare. It is Sunday, tables are crowded with locals sipping warm beverages and reading the weekend newspaper. We amble from room to room through the house, currently there are no open tables, we will get something to go. We order our drinks at the counter, a glass case is filled with delicious looking baked goods from red velvet cake to cookies; we have something else in mind……..

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The Alpine Chocolat Haus on Main Street serves up a delectable variety of chocolates handmade in Gaylord MI. The space is long and narrow, a large front window provides natural light and a great view of downtown. A table front and center features Easter bunnies made from every variety of chocolate. Boxed candy is found on shelves and cubbies along each wall, an extensive counter displays individual varieties of truffles, barks and clusters. Further on are freezers filled with Moomers Homemade Ice Cream, made in Traverse City MI, it has been named Best Scoop in America. Bags of Chocolat Haus Chips (potato chips dipped in chocolate) and Bruce’s Gourmet Caramel Corn line shelves, both are best sellers. Today Kris and I are just looking for something chocolate to go with our piping hot coffee. Settling on dark chocolate almond bark, a sea salt caramel and a peanut butter truffle, we are pleasantly surprised at how reasonable the prices are, the chocolate itself is outstanding!

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We walk from Main Street around Kellogg Park to Penniman Ave, we are seeing “Saving Mr. Banks” at the historic Penn Theatre. The Woodward Theatre Company purchased this plot of land back in 1926 with the intention of building a first class movie palace. Over a decade later Harry Lush purchased the property and built the theatre you see today; the Penn officially opened December 4, 1941, the movie was “Weekend in Havana”. In 1964 Margaret Wilson purchased the Penn, a couple of years later she added a concession and altered the entrance to what you see today. In 2003 the doors were closed and the fate of the theatre uncertain; thanks to a group of businessmen who purchased the building in 2005, the theatre is now rented to the non-profit Friends Of The Penn for $1 a year! After much interior renovation the single screen, 402 seat,Penn re-opened in 2006 showing current second-run movies, independent and classic films and occasional live musical performances. 

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We approach the theatre, a line of movie-goers has formed from the old-fashioned ticket window down the sidewalk, we are not the only ones gripping a warm drink with gloved hands. The Art Deco facade is gorgeous, the marquis is lit up advertising today’s film, Saving Mr. Banks, All Seats $3.00. Fortunately the line moves swiftly, inside, little if anything remains from 1941, old movie posters hang on the back wall of the lobby. The theatre has three sections of seats, an aisle-way runs down each side, it’s crowded with people, we have to go down to the third or fourth row to find two empty seats. Walls in the auditorium are now covered in red pleated material that matches the grand curtain, also in red, modern light sconces recall the Art Deco design style. Without delay the movie begins, for the next two hours we are entertained by Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as P L Traverse, author of the Mary Poppins novels. The story takes place in 1961, the clothes and cars are cool, the tunes are catchy and familiar, in the end, everyone lives happily ever after and the audience is left with a smile.

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Keeping with our historical theme, we drive over to Novi for dinner at Shiro. The restaurant operates out of an elegant Colonial Revival home, built in 1929 by Charles Rogers for his bride Harriet Thornton. The Rogers family made their fortune in canned milk, Rogers is actually credited with inventing condensed milk. The home was originally called White House Manor because it was built with the money made from the White House Milk Company. Charles died in 1942, after Harriet died the Crusoe family purchased the home and lived there for about ten years, the house then sat empty from 1973 to 1981. The Cervi brothers bought the home and turned it into a restaurant, this would be the story for the next many years; each of the owners reporting the sound of footsteps when no one was around, lights that would come on when the place was empty, they all said it was haunted. In 1998 Shiro Japanese Restaurant opened and has been there since.

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We snag a parking space close to the entrance, the home is stately, prominent, lavish, it has a southern feel to it with its tall columns and balcony. Inside, our attention is drawn to the elegant grand staircase with cherry wood banisters that curve to the second floor. There is hand carved wood work, stained glass windows and leaded glass doors. On the right is the sushi bar, the room is crowded with diners, we are seated in the room to the left; white tablecloths cover the tables, votive candles are a nice touch. We place our order and talk about the movie as we wait for our dishes to arrive. First out is the Shiro salad with a delicious ginger dressing, the kimchee pancake appetizer is enough for two, it has a really nice flavor. We chose three different sushi rolls, each a different flavor and texture, all were enjoyable. It has been a wonderful Sunday,we are lucky to live in an area that has so much to offer within a short distance.

PLYMOUTH: Concours d’Elegance, Automotive Art….

9 Aug

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Detroit: referred to as  Motortown, America’s Automotive Capital, Motown and of course, The Motor City; any way you look at it, we love our cars. It is no surprise then that Concours d’Elegance of America chose the Detroit area to hold one of their prestigious events. The first 32 years were spent at Meadowbrook Hall, after outgrowing the space, this was the second consecutive year at the Inn at St Johns in Plymouth MI. The Concours series of shows are unique, combining the best of both automotive and fashion design. This is no ordinary car show; the vehicles here are prestigious, rare, magnificent, even priceless. It is a celebration of beauty, design and innovation, truly making it an event.

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 We had never been to the Inn at St Johns before today; the former Seminary and Chapel sit upon immaculately maintained grounds. The early Italian style architecture makes a perfect backdrop for the 300 vintage cars in attendance. White tents serving food and beverages dot the golf course, larger tents are used to exhibit and sell automotive art. Women wear sundresses made of beautiful fabrics that flow in the gentle summer breeze. There are hats and scarves, I am fascinated by the poise of women wearing high heels on a golf course. Men wear summer slacks, polo shirts, even suits, all on a mid 80 degree day. You have to dress up when in the company of such extraordinary vehicles. Cars are arranged by class; the Jet-Age Station Wagons got a lot of attention. These rarely seen examples date back to the late 50’s and early 60’s; the size alone is amazing! Great fabrics, lots of chrome, fins and that signature design that defined the era. All the big names showed up: Packard, Cadillac, Duesenberg, Auburn, Cord, Chrysler and Pierce Arrow. Looking better than they did on the showroom floor, their appeal has withstood the test of time. There’s a bit of everything; horseless carriages, Slingshot Dragsters, Trans Am Racers, and concept cars. These are the finest examples of their kind; trained judges examine both inside and out before bestowing the awards. Grandstand seating allows you a look at each car individually, an announcer gives a brief a history, often times owners dress in period clothing, it’s all very interesting.  On the way out was a cool collection of Chrysler concept cars on display; great colors and designs. 

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We were famished from all the walking in the hot sun, downtown Plymouth was just a short drive away, which meant food was not far behind. Walkable streets, sidewalk cafes, coffee shops, galleries and specialty stores make this a popular town. We got ourselves parked and then set our sights on finding a restaurant. Housed in a former bank building on the corner of Main and Penniman is the Greek Islands Restaurant. The type of restaurant is fitting to the architecture of the building; made of stone and accented with Doric columns you immediately think Greek. The interior is newly redone; the ceiling is painted blue with soft clouds like the sky, walls are painted with images of Apollo, Poseidon, Athena and Pegasus. The menu offers traditional Greek selections along with Coney Islands; looking around the ratio of coneys to gyros seemed 50/50.  We ordered a Greek salad and one of the best bowls of chicken lemon rice soup we have ever had. The combination plate arrived with squares of Moussaka, Pastitsio, Spanakopita (that’s spinach pie to you and me) and a large portion of rice topped with a tasty red sauce. Each item was delicious, a mixture of sauces and textures, meats, vegetables and noodles, delish! Only opened for three days it is already popular.

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As we were leaving downtown we came upon the Dairy-Go-Round on S. Main St; as the name implies it is an ice cream stand designed to look like a merry-go-round. It just so happened we had enough room left for ice cream….imagine that….   Hard scoop, frozen yogurt, or soft serve, the choices are endless. A turtle sundae for me and a Heath caramel sundae for Kris, we sat at a tiny table and raced the heat to the finish. Those so inclined can eat their ice cream perched upon a stationary carousel horse, I bet the kids love that!

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Hines Park Drive is one of Kris’s favorite scenic routes to take from this side of town. Covering nearly 20 miles, it travels from Northville in the west to Dearborn in the east. Pure recreation from end to end it has much to offer: soccer fields, baseball diamonds, picnic areas, volleyball courts, playscapes, bike trails and fishing docs. The park is extremely popular with joggers and cyclists. The road itself zigs and zags along the Rouge River, small elevation changes weave through the park. Mature Maple trees and Weeping Willows line the roadway, it is a spectacular sight in the Fall. The drive is relaxing; traffic lights are few and far between, folks in canoes paddle on the river, Swans float by on the shoreline, the scent of hot dogs and hamburgers from roadside grills waft through the air.  The scenery changes with the seasons; spring flowers, summer ball games, autumn leaves and a blanket of white in the winter. Hines Park is also home to the Wayne County Lightfest held annually every November and December. 

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